REVIEW #57

Minetta Tavern

Opened in 1937, Minetta Tavern’s heyday was in the 1950s. Since that time, it has sat somewhat sleepily in Greenwich Village, dull and neglected. Several years ago, restaurateur Keith McNally, joined by chef partners Lee Hanson and Riad Nasr, completely reinvigorated it, breathing new life into its ambiance and menu. The trio is expert at engrafting New York style onto classic French conceptions (viz. Balthazar, Pastis, Schiller’s) and the post-renovation Minetta Tavern has been categorized as a “Parisian steakhouse meets classic New York City tavern.”

In addition to now being one of the most sceney restaurants in NYC, it is also one of the best, serving some of the most expertly aged and delicious prime beef in the city. The best are a $124 dry-aged côte de boeuf for two alongside roasted bone marrow and a bone-in NY strip. There is also an excellent Black Label burger, a custom blend of dry-aged rib eye, skirt steak and brisket, served on a Balthazar bakery bun with caramelized onions. In addition to the excellent beef, Minetta serves a sophisticated crème billi bi, a creamy mussel soup adapted from the legendary Maxim’s in Paris, and a buttery trout meunière with crabmeat.

McNally excels at fabricating restaurants with just the right blend of modishness and nostalgia. The interior still hearkens back to the restaurant’s halcyon past, with a refinished oak bar, tile floors and original wood paneling that conjure up an old saloon, along with a faded fresco of the Greenwich Village of yore. Original framed pictures of illustrious figures from that era adorn the walls. As at McNally’s perennially popular Waverly Inn, retro cocktails are served at the cacophonous bar. McNally transformations like this always engender lots of buzz; what is astonishing is that they manage to be more than merely über-trendy. The quality of Minetta Tavern’s food can hold its own with any of its peers on our list, and it is now one of the most iconic restaurants of postmillennial NYC.

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INFORMATION

Greenwich Village
113 MacDougal St.
New York (nr. Bleecker St.)
(212) 475-3850
Mon-Tues, 5:30pm-midnight; Wed-Fri, noon-2:30pm, 5:30pm-midnight; Sat, 11am-3pm, 5:30pm-midnight
    Lee Hanson, Chef
    Riad Nasr, Chef
    William Brasile, Chef de Cuisine
    Keith McNally, Restaurateur

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